The FinTech accelerator, based in Dubai is expected to bring cutting-edge financial services technology to the MEASA markets, while providing a platform that brings financial and technology firms together. Its goal is to increase access to, and improve customer experience and drive operational efficiencies in the financial services sector.
According to Sushil Saluja, Accenture’s senior managing director for Financial Services in the company’s Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America region, “DIFC is uniquely positioned to become the regional hub for FinTech. By putting together local banks and FinTech firms to ideate, collaborate and partner, DIFC is helping both sectors be at the forefront of the financial services industry. The accelerator programme will identify the best entrepreneurs within the financial services industry and grant them invaluable access to and feedback from potential customers and funders.”
The DIFC Accelerator will be run by Accenture because of its experience and expertise in building and running FinTech Innovation Labs in London, New York and Hong Kong. FinTech Hive at DIFC will start with a 12 week ‘accelerator programme’, which will bring together the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs to compete and address the growing needs of the region’s financial services industry, using innovative technology solutions. It intends to catalyse the growth and efficiency in a variety of areas including trade finance, alternative finance such as P2P payments, and Sharia based services.
In 2004, DIFC led the development of global financial services by linking the top financial centres around the world to the region. The DIFC Authority sees the FinTech Hive at DIFC as a continuation of its vision to link, develop, and adapt top financial technologies to the region.
“DIFC is fast becoming a pivotal hub in the global economy, with over 1,500 firms and 21,000 employees – most of whom are exploring FinTech solutions to tap into the world’s fastest growing economies. We are committed to providing a diverse and forward-thinking ecosystem to support FinTech innovation,” said Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority.
The global FinTech sector has attracted more than $50 billion in investment since 2010, but currently the MEA region only attract around 1 percent of that investment. The DIFC Accelerator intends to bridge the gap by creating a platform that drives innovation and showcases success – identifying leading technology entrepreneurs and then offering them the opportunity to grow their innovations in collaboration with top executives from DIFC and regional financial institutions.
Apart from the Fintech Hive, the UAE recently unveiled the UAE National Innovation Strategy and Dubai Plan 2021 to be among the smartest cities in the world. It’s also a founding member of the Global Blockchain Council.
Emirates NBD and Mashreq will be the first local financial institutions to join the accelerator programme, while HSBC and VISA are the first international financial services providers.